Hannah Smith is not your average detective or captain of a small fishing boat.
She is the main character of New York Times best-selling author Randy Wayne White's new book "Gone."
It's the start of a new series for White, the former fishing boat captain turned professional writer.
Randy Wayne White of Sanibel Island takes a walk on the feminine side in his new book “Gone,” the first in a new series with a female protagonist. The novel published by Putnam goes on sale Sept. 4.
"I have been so lucky in my writing life, and my life in general, that it is a rare morning I don't wake up psyched, ready to work, or also reflect on the fact that, by all that's fair, I should be back running a fishing boat, or climbing telephone poles," said White, who lives on Sanibel Island.
Since leaving home at age 16, White has been a farmhand, a brass and iron foundry worker, telephone lineman and for 13 years and a full-time fishing guide at Tarpon Bay Marina on Sanibel.
In 1990, White opened his Doc Ford series with "Sanibel Flats." Eighteen Doc Ford novels followed but White is now starting a new chapter.
"When I decided to start a new series, and had to select from four characters I have come to adore, it was not an easy call," said White. "Hanna Smith was my choice. I loved her from the first paragraph she dominated in my novel 'Captiva' (1995), and she has stayed with me, and has remained a pillar of the Doc Ford saga, even though seldom mentioned in the next 15 books."
Hannah Smith is a descendant fro a long line of formidable Florida women known for wit, spirit and backbone, according to the author. Her character is based on some of the women in White's family and the late Capt. Esperanza Woodring of Sanibel Island.
"In the 1950s, before the bridge was built, there was a sign posted at the ferry landing that read, 'All of our fishing guides are gentlemen except for one and she's a lady,'" said White. "That was Esperanza although even her son Ralph might agree she wasn't always ladylike. The woman was a delight, always intimidating, and a brilliant fisherman. There's a lot of Esperanza in Capt. Hannah Smith."
In "Gone," she attempts to locate the missing niece of a wealthy fishing client. The missing woman, Olivia Seasons, will inherit $90 million if she can be found to sign one legal document.
Hidden within the lush, beautiful scenic setting of Florida's island community is a subculture of crime, greed and lust, according to the author. Somehow Olivia Seasons has become entangled in this seedy world and only Smith can get her out. However, during a rescue mission she discovers more about the vicious predator who has seduced Olivia.
As her friend Doc Ford once told her, "If you surprise a dangerous man, expect to be surprised."
Smith must follow a trail of clues leading from the rich enclaves of Captiva Island to the mangrove swamps of Ten Thousand Islands and places not found on a map.
In addition to his successful Doc Ford series, White has authored four nonfiction books, two cookbooks and seven novels under the pseudonym Randy Striker. He is the winner of the Conch Republic Award for literature and the John D. MacDonald Award for Literary Excellence. His national PBS documentary, "The Gift of the Game," which he wrote and narrated, won the 2002 Woods Hole Film Festival Best of Festival award.
He is only one of four writers named as an Editor-At-Large by Outside Magazine. In 2011, White was named a Florida Literary Legend by the Florida Heritage Society. A fishing and nature enthusiast, he has also written for National Geographic Adventure, Men's Journal, Playboy and Men's Health.
"The thing I love most to write about," he said, "is Doc Ford and his friends at Dinkin's Bay. I was a light tackle fishing guide at Tarpon Bay Marina for 13 years and the Ford novels afford me the opportunity to revisit a time, and people about which I care deeply."
White can regularly be found at Sanibel's Doc Ford's Rum Bar and Grille, where he will sign pre-ordered books from noon to 2 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday and Monday, Sept. 2-3. He will return to Sanibel Island at 5 p.m. Sept. 6 at Sanibel Bookshop. Other stops on his 21-store book tour include Fort Myers Barnes & Noble at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4, and Monday, Sept. 24, at Doc Ford's Fort Myers Beach.
For more information about White, go to www.docford.com.